Camosun launches film micro-credential; making progress on film studio

Camosun launches film micro-credential; making progress on film studio
Camosun College is launching a micro-credential to teach the skills needed to be a production assistant. (Brands&People/Unsplash)

Camosun College is launching a new micro-credential for the film industry, as a spokesperson for the college says he believes the next stage for a proposed film studio may be coming soon.

Geoff Wilmshurst, vice-president of partnerships at Camosun College said a production assistant micro-credential is being offered to address a need the South Island film industry identified.

“The film industry has been growing in southern Vancouver Island over the last few years, and so there’s been a big need for trained crews,” Wilmshurst said.

“We’ve become aware through our film contacts, that a production assistant program would be valuable and appreciated and that there are a fair number of people who are interested in getting into the foot in the door. So this was a motivation for us to want to provide that.”

And following a $150,000 grant to put together a business case for a film studio for the college, Wilmshurst says he believes progress will be made shortly.

“Without giving too much away, I feel very optimistic that we’re going to be going to the private sector to ask for proposals relatively soon. I feel optimistic about that,” Wilmshurst said. “The progress on moving the studio forward is happening relatively the quickly now, and I think that there’ll be more for us to announce in the coming months.”

He says the college is working with Saanich, and B.C.’s Ministry of Advanced Education regarding the plan for a film studio.

Kathleen Gilbert, the film commissioner for the Vancouver Island South Film and Media Commission, says there have been large projects that want to film in Victoria but move on when they learn there is no film studio.

“For years, we would we got probably at least one [project] a month that was looking for a soundstage,” Gilbert said, noting once the studios learned there was no sound stage they would stop calling.

“With the press that came with both Camosun and the Malahat, we started to get calls from some of the streaming services, saying that they heard we had a studio so of course, I have to tell him, it’s not quite built yet. So as soon as we have one of those I’ll going down to LA with the plans and pictures and get people booked into them.”

Gilbert says film sets can sometimes have between 20-30 production assistants per day, and while there are enough to meet the need at the moment, once the film studios open there will be a need for more.

“We want to make sure that we’ve got as many people whether it’s full time or part time in the industry that have some of the skills and at least a working knowledge set” Gilbert said. “So I would say we definitely need production assistants, but we need other departments as well.”

Wilmshurst said the micro-credential aims to get people trained to be a production assistant to fill the future need.

“We are working closely with the film production unions, so that they would accept those credentials from students that successfully graduate,” Wilmshurst said. “And that would allow them to enter into the film production world, and in some cases, they may even be able to get permittee status with the unions right away.”

The micro-credential is a six week course offered on weekends between June 4 and June 19 with space for 40 students.

The course listing on Camosun’s website says students will learn about health and safety on film sets, the history of film including best practices today, and key duties of a production assistant role.

Gilbert said the fact that it is a micro-credential is ideal so that students can be trained quickly, without a large time commitment.

“It’s definitely a really needed program here,” she said. “The fact that it’s micro-credentials is great, because it’s a quick six week course that will allow students to kind of dabble in it and figure out if they really want a career in film, and if so, what courses do they need to follow up with in order to have a career in the film industry.”

Wilmshurst said this is the first micro-credential Camosun is offering for film, but there are others in the works.

“We’re looking at doing in the future are things like set design, which you know, involves obviously, construction equipment. And of course, Camosun is well equipped for that,” Wilmshurst said. “Another is hair and makeup, and that’s one that could come on stream, you know, relatively soon, maybe as soon as the fall, you would see a hair and makeup program that’s targeted, specifically for film industry needs.”

“There’s things like lighting and gaffing, which do require more equipment and built but those are ones that we’re looking at offering in the future in the not too distant future as well.”

With the announced film studio in Langford, and the plans for the college’s film studio, Wilmshurst says the need for trained film crews will continue growing and Camosun is moving to fill that need with these micro-credentials.

Laura BroughamLaura Brougham

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